But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
—2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
“I do it!” exclaimed my granddaughter as I tried to help her take the top off of her juice bottle. I was, of course, trying to avoid the disaster that was certainly going to occur since she was not yet proficient at this particular task. But in her 2 year-old mind, she was quite capable of doing most things herself. Naturally, this episode ended with tears and a change of clothes.
As I thought about her complete confidence in her abilities, I felt the Spirit nudging me—almost as if He were saying. “Sound familiar?” It is easy for me to rely on my own strength, resources and knowledge. As a leader I have plenty of experience. So I tend to divide my issues into two categories. There are the problems I know without a shadow of a doubt require God’s help and those I think I am perfectly fine to handle on my own.
We see a great example of this same strategy in the life of the Apostle Paul. He was tenacious with an exceptionally strong will. Courageously he faced angry mobs as he traveled proclaiming the gospel of Christ. Yet in most cases he was relying on his own strength, not God’s. Then in 2 Corinthians 12:7, we find Paul was afflicted with a thorn in the flesh. Paul was absolutely able, but God wanted to exercise His power through Paul. We are never told exactly what plagued Paul, but the Lord used this affliction to humble him and it required complete reliance on God’s power instead of his own. Only in Paul’s weakness was the Lord able to show His strength through Paul’s life.
Feeling strong in a particular area of life is not necessarily a good thing. While we need to have confidence, it is easy to cross the line from depending on God to relying on our own ability. That is when our strength can actually hinder our influence and leadership. No matter what we do, we must always make sure our trust is in the strength of the Lord. Only then can God’s best work be accomplished by His power through our weakness.
I lift my eyes up unto the mountains, Where does my help come from?My help comes from You, Maker of Heaven, Creator of the earth.O how I need You Lord, You are my only hope; You are my only prayer.So I will wait for You to come and rescue me, To come and give me life.
—Lyrics by Brian Doerksen